Monday, June 18, 2007

Taking Interfaith Relations Way Too Far

Mark Steyn quipped:

With the benefit of hindsight, it should have been obvious that the first female imam would be an Episcopalian...

Ah, if only he were joking! He wrote in response to this news story:

Shortly after noon on Fridays, the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding ties on a black headscarf, preparing to pray with her Muslim group on First Hill.

On Sunday mornings, Redding puts on the white collar of an Episcopal priest.
She does both, she says, because she's Christian and Muslim.

Redding, who until recently was director of faith formation at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, has been a priest for more than 20 years. Now she's ready to tell people that, for the last 15 months, she's also been a Muslim — drawn to the faith after an introduction to Islamic prayers left her profoundly moved.

Her announcement has provoked surprise and bewilderment in many, raising an obvious question: How can someone be both a Christian and a Muslim..?

She says she felt an inexplicable call to become Muslim, and to surrender to God — the meaning of the word "Islam."

"It wasn't about intellect," she said. "All I know is the calling of my heart to Islam was very much something about my identity and who I am supposed to be.

"I could not not be a Muslim..."

Redding's bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting.

Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds


Perryville Times writes about how we have set ourselves up for this sort theological disaster:

The way these folks think is rather agnostic in that they believe that God cannot be fully known in this life. They seem to believe that all the various spiritual activities recorded by humanity are efforts by God to commune with humanity. This notion is consistent with the idea I have often heard from preachers that God reveals himself to humans at the level we are able to understand him, exemplified in the nation of Israel's Old Testament history. It is not a far step from that sort of thinking to believing that any sort of spirituality, whether revelatory or not, is as valid as any other.

And Jeff the Baptist reminds us that this degree of blatant syncretism is nothing new in the ECUSA, which includes ordained ministers serving as druids on the side.


Stresspenguin said...

Sounds very much like the titular character in "Life of Pi."

I very much desire to "submit" myself to God, and as a methodical person I admire the discipline it takes to pray five times daily.

However, I would chose to adopt and modify these practices into an exclusive worship of Christ...not take on a second faith.

John said...

Perhaps your Methodism has fallen astray. Here in the Florida Conference, we pray five times a day facing Nashville.

Dale Tedder said...

I wonder how she both affirms and denies the death and resurrection of Christ at the same time and the same relationship.

I wonder how she affirms both justification by faith and justification by works in the same way and in the same relationship.

I wonder how she affirms and denies the doctrine of the Trinity at the same time and in the same relationship.

If she's hungering for an intense prayer life, there are certainly many Christian ways to do that without becoming apostate...which is what has happened.

Very sad indeed.

truevyne said...

Perhaps she'd never heard about submitting to God in her faith? Sometimes the truth is hard to come by in Christianity? I'm flabbergasted at the whole prospect of this post.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

For added reference


Marie N. said...

How does she teach the first commandment to her Episcopalian congregation?

Thou shalt have no other gods "except..."?

Brett Royal said...

Is this for real, or is it April 1? These religions are mutually exclusive. I can't speak for Muslims, but I can say with confidence that to call yourself a Christian, then deny the core of christianity, is to be a christian by title only.
I saw a t-shirt the other day (no, I would not wear one because it does nothing to draw attention to Christ) that said Going to Church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a car.
Yeah, it annoyed me a little, but I think it fits here. Oh wait, it's not just church, it's the Episcopal Church. And I'm sure she had some good theological teachings at some fine University as well. So maybe this isn't a good analogy.

MethoDeist said...

I am a pretty open-minded person regarding theology and religion but this makes no sense to me.

I can understand transcending both Christianity and Islam by finding things that you like about both and then combining them. This is an act of integralism in which one finds common aspects among various religions and then seeks to integrate them into one belief system as long as they do not contradict. What would exist afterward would not be either Christianity or Islam but something else.

However, what is going on here is nothing of the sort.

All religions have a core set of beliefs that are usually quite simple and easy to follow. These principles distinguish the religion from others and lay down a basic framework for believers to adhere to. Normally, there is no problem with this except when you claim that you are a member of religion A and a member of religion B which have claims that are contradictory.

I am a Deist that attends and has some participation in a Christian church. At no point in time have I ever stated that I was a Deist and a Christian. Deists deny the most fundamental principles of Christianity so one could not be both. I can learn from Christianity and be a follow of the philosophy of Jesus but not be both a Christian and a Deist.

In turn, one cannot claim to be a Christian and a Muslim concurrently. The claims are mutually exclusive and contradict each other at the most basic of levels.

It seems to me that Gen X and Gen Y are in the process of Integralism in which they are looking beyond just one religion and moving past pluralism so that they are integrating non-contradictory aspects of many religions.

However, what is going on with her is not pluralism or integralism, it is dualism which is an untenable position.


Turbulent Cleric said...

As someone who hugelyrespects Islam, I cannot see how someone can be both Christian and Muslim. This shows a lack of respect to both faiths.

Dan Trabue said...

"How does she teach the first commandment to her Episcopalian congregation?

Thou shalt have no other gods "except..."?"

A couple of thoughts/questions:

1. "Allah" is just a word for God. If any one were following God and calling God, "Allah," they'd still be following God.

2. Having said that, I'm not defending this person's position. I don't really know enough about Islam to say for sure, but I'm sorta inclined to agree with those who have said that there are likely insurmountable differences between Islam and Christianity.

But, as I said, I'm not really that familiar with Islam. I'm curious what you all think are the differences are between Islam and Christianity?

Does Islam specifically reject Jesus as the son of God? Does Islam reject Jesus' teachings (if I'm not mistaken, they embrace Jesus' teachings - or at least his moral teachings, ie, how we ought to live)?

Can anyone speak authoritatively on the subject?

Jonathan said...

Dan, The Koran says that it is blasphemy to suggest that God would have a son.

Keith Taylor said...

Dan wrote:

"Allah" is just a word for God. If any one were following God and calling God, "Allah," they'd still be following God.

Dead Wrong Dan. the Allah that the Mohemmedans follow is in no form or fashion anything like the Judeo-Christian God. If you refuse to believe me, go ask one of them for yourself.

They aren't even on the same plane of existance. They are are not the same. That is a lie from the Father of Lies.

The Ironic Catholic said...

You know, there is a whole depth tradition about submitting to God in Christianity. It is called mystical theology. Too bad her seminary didn't make a passing reference to that.

Geez. I can see a regular person in the pew being confused, but a priest?!?!?!

And her bishop responding this way?

Jim said...

I am also confused by the situation and the Bishop's response. However, I had a house mate one summer in college, 1991, who was a Muslim from Bangladesh.

He was a very nice guy and on the few occasions when we discussed our faith, his perspective was that Jews believe in the Old Testament, Christians believe in the Old and New Testaments, and Muslims believe in the Old and New Testaments, and the Koran.

At least for him, there was a great deal of common ground between the religions, but they obviously differ significantly in their final revelations of what is truth.

At the same time, I hear many Mormons, including Mitt Romney, claiming to be Christians while believing in the Book of Mormon as another gospel testament.

Yet, the reaction to Romney seems to be completely different than the reaction to the Episcopal Priest and to other Muslims.

I'm not sure what it all means, but it seemed to be an interesting observation.

Jeff the Baptist said...

Many practicing Mormons, Muslims, and Scientologists are often fed that line about not contradicting other religions. It isn't true, but it is told to them by their spiritual leaders whom they trust so they believe it. It is therefore understandable.

But a Christian priest should know better. Even if she didn't, her bishop should definitely know better and take appropriate action.

Dan Trabue said...

"Dead Wrong Dan. the Allah that the Mohemmedans follow is in no form or fashion anything like the Judeo-Christian God."

Well, that's true for many Christians, too. But I don't know that that means Islam itself is anti-Christianity.

I suspect it may well be (that is, Islam may be diametrically opposed to Christianity), but the fact that some (or many) Muslims, Christians or Jews follow a God that is not the God that I find described in the Bible is not in and of itself enough for me to assume that is true for all individuals in that sect.

To the Allah question, let me restate myself: "“Allah” is the Arabic word for “God” and has been so long before the existence of Islam." source. Don't get hung up on a word. I'm asking about their specific teachings.

Jonathan says the Koran states that it is blasphemy to suggest God has a son. Is there a source for that? Is that a consistent teaching of the Koran? (We know that the Bible has many statements which aren't in and of themselves reflective of Christianity).

Let me be clear: I suspect that Islam is inconsistent with Christianity. But I'm saying that I don't know that. I don't know enough about Islam to know that to be true. The fact that they speak Arabic and therefore use an Arabic word for God isn't enough to signify a break from Christianity.

Jonathan said...

They said, "The Most Gracious has begotten a son"! You have uttered a gross blasphemy. The heavens are about to shatter, the earth is about to tear asunder, and the mountains are about to crumble. Because they claim that the Most Gracious has begotten a son. It is not befitting the Most Gracious that He should beget a son.

-- The Koran 19:88-95

same idea stated in 19:9

Here is a website by Muslims that says the same thing:

MethoDeist said...

Islam, Christianity and Judaism are all Abrahamic faiths and have many similarities despite what some might want to believe.

First came Judaism, then came Christianity and finally Islam. Judaism developed from earlier polytheistic and monotheistic religions in that region and as everyone here already knows, Christianity developed from Judaism. Then Islam developed around 600 years after Christianity by Mohammed.

Since they are all Abrahamic faiths, they all share many aspects of belief. The difference comes in how some of the stories are told (compare the Koran and Old Testament), what practices are emphasized and what beliefs are adhered to by believers.

I won't bore everyone here with the beliefs of Judaism and Christianity as I will assume that they are well known.

The primary difference in regards to belief between Christianity and Islam is in how Jesus is seen. In Islam, Jesus is a prophet in a line of prophets (ie: Moses and the like) who came to teach God's word to the people on this planet. He was not born the son of God nor by a virgin birth. He is seen as fully human in Islam. They believe that he did have the power to perform miracles and other things but was murdered and no resurrection of any kind occured. Since Jesus was murdered, God needed another prophet so Mohammed was chosen and became the next prophet.

So, as one can see, certain practices might be shared but the most basic principles of Christianity and Islam are mutually exclusive.

Christianity sees Jesus as divine and part of the Trinity who was the messiah sent to take on man's sin through blood attonment while Islam sees Jesus as a prophet like those before him here to teach God's word.

This is not to say that these faiths cannot learn from each other but to claim that one is both and believes in both should produce some personal theological problems for those claiming such things.

In general, I believe that everyone has the light of God within them and only they can dampen that flame by their actions and beliefs. So, a person can/must believe what they want as no one has a right to come between them and God. However, when you represent a specific religion and community some problems will arise when mutually exclusive faiths are brought together in their fullness.

Well, at least this kind of thing keeps it interesting for you Christians.


Keith McIlwain said...

And the journey o Bizarro world goes on...

Dan Trabue said...

Thank you methodeist for some further insight.

Here's an interesting site, Muslims for Jesus, and here's what the Koran says about Jesus, according to them.

Interesting reading (although I found the font a bit difficult to wade through).

John Wilks said...

Wow! I thought that nothing could shock me anymore.

If "take up your cross and follow me" is not enough of a call to submission, I don't know what is.

CBrulee said...

One could espouse and support the concept that Yahweh, Allah, and God are the one true God. And perhaps that different groups of imperfect people have come to different, imperfect understandings of God.

Yet there is the fact that Islam views Jesus as a great prophet, not the son of God.

You really cannot accept Jesus as the son of God, your Lord and Savior, yet in the same breath say he's not the son of God.

Followers of Christ can certainly find facets, rituals, and spiritual techniques of other religions of benefit. But as an earlier poster commented, you pull those great ideas and concepts into your Christian path. You do not claim to be a member of both religions, parts of which are antithetical.

What is she thinking? Her response is pretty naive and childlike. And the bishop needs a verbal slap up side the head -- wake up, man! You're supposed to be an example for her, not an apologist.

Ignobleone said...

Episcopomuslim priestess; isn't this the inevitable evolution of a postmodern theology that recognizes a supreme being, but denies the limits established by Jesus in John's gospel (14:6)?

This is really not a surprising event given the number of protestant spiritual leaders who believe there are many valid paths to God.

John said...

At the same time, I hear many Mormons, including Mitt Romney, claiming to be Christians while believing in the Book of Mormon as another gospel testament.

Yet, the reaction to Romney seems to be completely different than the reaction to the Episcopal Priest and to other Muslims.

It depends on who you talk you. But yes, many evangelicals are willing to sell out their theology and support Romney specifically as a Christian because he supports 'family values'. The Mormons do a good job of looking like evangelicals, and that often matters more to evangelicals that it should.

MethoDeist said...

This might (actually it will) change the direction of this thread some but I have a few questions.

Here they are:

Do Christians consider Mormons to be a part of the Christian faith?

Or, are Mormons considered their own theological belief system separate from Christianity?

If they are not considered Christians then why is that?

What are the criteria (creeds, beliefs, principles) that an individual/group should adhere to so that they can be considered a Christian?

I am not trying to start anything with these questions as I have no real clue (or opinion)on how Christians feel about Mormons and I would like to know.